Nickelodeon’s passion for education and enrichment extends beyond the screen and into the community. The people who make Nickelodeon’s shows aren’t just employees, they’re members of a community dedicated to enriching the lives of kids and their families. That’s why we’ve created Nick Community Efforts, or “NiCE”. Through a wide collection of demonstrated projects that focus on Arts Education, we facilitate mentorships; visit classrooms with our artists and writers; and donate our equipment, talent, and time back to the community. We believe art should be shared and cultivated. NiCE strives to make meaningful contributions to our community while providing our employees with the opportunities to stretch their reach beyond the screen.
NiCE provides an avenue for students to learn professional communication skills, establish industry connections, and understand animation as a viable career path through on-site workshops and mentor guidance. From elementary school to high school, Nick Community Efforts is prevalent in Los Angeles classrooms at every age. Our “Let’s Draw!” program brings our artists into elementary school classrooms teaching students basic drawing principles to draw their favorite characters. The “Let’s Draw” program even expands into playgrounds, pediatric wards, and nonprofits such as Schools on Wheels, the Lollipop Theatre Network, and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation.
Our Digital Media Program at Middle Schools builds on and continues to expose children to careers in arts and technology. With our industry professionals working alongside faculty to shape the program’s curriculum, we implemented a series of master classes with our employees teaching the foundations of story, storyboarding, and film. We cap off the school year with a Sound Effects Master Class for a SpongeBob episode on a Foley stage on the Paramount lot.
With our primary animation studio being located in Burbank, California, a natural partnership was forged with Burbank High School to create our most immersive project for students, our Animation Partnership Program. Our studio employees not only teach master classes on key phases in the Animation process, but, they also serve as mentors whereby Nick employees guide Burbank High School students through the creation of their own animated short films.
Inside of our animation studio, our “Best Field Trip Ever” initiative brings in underserved youth for an immersive half day experience which includes a studio tour, art workshops, and artist informationals. By partnering with local schools and after school programs, we’ve brought in over 3000 kids over the past 5 years and donated over 500 employee service hours. Additionally, at the end of every semester, our interns put their artistic skills to work on a Nickelodeon mural. Over the past 8 years, we’ve completed 35 mural beautification projects all throughout Burbank and the Los Angeles area.
All of our work is translated into the digital space with our @NickAnimation social media team and their on the ground coverage of all our initiatives. From recap videos to talent spotlights, our Nickelodeon Animation accounts highlight the amazing work our employees are doing in the community. The pages aim to be a source of guidance and insight for aspiring creatives, which parallels our NiCE mission. In utilizing the #NickCommunityEfforts hashtag, the social team documents both our school and studio programs through photos and videos, tagging and engaging with our partners and schools in every post, and shares them across all social media platforms, which include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. The Nick Animation YouTube channel also hosts an extensive Nick Community Efforts playlist which features professional video recaps of these initiatives. As students build their skills and confidence through our programs, they’re also given the memorable exposure of being featured on Nickelodeon’s official social media accounts.
Through NiCE, our success is measured by the growth of the schools and students involved in our programs. 2020 marks the eighth year of our Burbank Animation Partnership program. While students pushed on from home, we supplied them with tablets to finish their films; 20 free Harmony licenses, courtesy of ToonBoom Animation and our VP of Animation Technology; and free Creative Clouds to students courtesy of Adobe. And through video conferencing, we were able to continue our virtual mentorship sessions with students. We similarly were able to host over 400 kids through “Let’s Draw!” sessions and completed 15 “Best Field Trip Ever” experiences, with 3 of them being done digitally. George Washington Elementary, where we piloted the “Let’s Draw!” program, took home “The Gold Ribbon and Exemplary Arts Award” by the California Department of Education. GWE is also a Title One School and was only 1 of 13 schools in the state this year to win. We also celebrated 2 Burbank High School mentorship program graduates who were winners at the California Student Media Festival. And, this past summer, we merged our mural project into a full playground makeover for LA Family Housing’s Pacoima Place site. What was once a drift field yard was transformed into a refuge for families and their kids to play. On our studio side, we proudly hired Ivy Penn, a BHS Animation Partnership Program Grad, as a“NICKtern”. She is our second direct hire who’s joined us as an alumnus through our Animation Program partnership.1